Canada praises progress in factory labour conditions

May Kunmakara / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Women working at a garment factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. KT/Mai Vireak

Donica Pattie, Canada’s Ambassador to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, on Friday lauded Cambodia’s recent advancements in factory labour conditions, which she said might prompt Canada to increase purchases from Cambodian textile manufacturers, according to a high-ranking Cambodian official.

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Ms Pattie, who is based in Bangkok, met this week with Ith Samheng, the Cambodian Minister of Labour and Vocational Training, in Phnom Penh.

According to Mr Samheng, the ambassador said the kingdom continues to be one of Canada’s biggest suppliers of textiles, and, in light of recent positive developments in factory working conditions, her government plans to strengthen that relation.

“Canada values our efforts in this regard and considers Cambodia a role model when it comes to improving labour conditions,” Mr Samheng said.

“They have discontinued orders from other countries that do not abide by international labour standards, but they will continue their relation with us,” he said, hinting also at the possibility that Canada might increase orders in the near future.

“If we continue on this path, they could even increase the amount of orders they place with Cambodian manufacturers.”

A report released last month by Better Factories Cambodia (BFC), a programme of the International Labour Organisation, found that compliance in the garment industry with working conditions regulations has improved substantially in the last four years.

Kaing Monika, deputy secretary general at the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, told Khmer Times that with the help of the International Labor Organization and its BFC programme the lives of workers in the garment industry have improved substantially in recent years.

“There’s been a remarkable improvement in working conditions and rights, such as full freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining,” he said.

“Developments in social security and the regular wage adjustment on an annual basis are also positive points for the workers. This would continue to ensure our preferential access to the EU market.”

According to Mr Samheng, to date Canada has purchased more than $90 million in Cambodian textile products.

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